After Tejas & Arjun, New Delhi Augments Its Firepower With ‘Made In India’ Superior, Lengthy-Vary Howitzers

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In his deal with to the nation on India’s 76th Independence Day, PM Narendra Modi took nice pleasure in saying, “My mates, at this time we heard this sound after 75 years of independence for which our ears have been craving to listen to. For the primary time after 75 years, the Made in India cannon saluted the Tricolour from the Crimson Fort. Will there be any Indian who is not going to be impressed by this sound?”

Modi was referring to an India-made howitzer gun, which for the primary time ever, delivered the ceremonial 21-gun salute when the nationwide flag was hoisted by him on the iconic Crimson Fort.

It’s a long-standing observe that out of the eight weapons which can be usually deployed for the event, seven hearth three rounds every.

This yr, the indigenous Superior Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) prototype was specifically custom-made for the event, together with some 25-pounders, or ‘Ordnance Fast Fireplace 25 Pounder’, a serious British subject gun and howitzer.

What the Indian Prime Minister tried to convey in his deal with was that ATAGS was the manifestation of indigenization or what known as the “Make in India” program that goals at self-reliance in arms and ammunition manufacturing.

In actual fact, his authorities has already recognized areas and sorts of arms that might be prohibited to import.

Indian ATAGS

The 155 mm ATAGS is the brainchild of India’s Defence Analysis and Growth Organisation (DRDO) and developed by its  Armament Analysis & Growth Institution (ARDE) and Armament & Fight Engineering Techniques (ACE), situated in Pune.

Importantly, its manufacturing has the involvement of the Indian non-public sector as nicely.  Bharat Forge Ltd (a part of Kalyani Group) and Tata Superior Techniques Ltd have been entrusted with the manufacture of the weapon system.

In keeping with Sangam Sinha, DG (R&M), DRDO, the ATAGS howitzer is a “recreation changer” as it’s the first on the planet to have a forty five km vary; it’s self-propelled and could be towed simply.

In a way, given the undue delays within the fructification of Indian arms and platforms from the dates of their inception (the tales of the Arjun tank and the Tejas, amongst others), the saga of ATAG is comparatively temporary.

Quickly after the tip of the Kargil victory in 1999, during which artillery usually and the much-cursed Bofors weapons (due to the corruption related to procurement from Sweden) performed a spectacular function, the Indian Military launched its formidable Area Artillery Rationalisation Plan (FARP).

This plan talked of the necessity to “standardize/streamline the procurement/ improvement of roughly 3000 items of Artillery, throughout 5 classes, together with 1580 towed gun programs, 814 mounted gun programs, 180 self-propelled wheeled gun programs, 100 self-propelled tracked gun programs, and 145 ultra-light air-portable howitzers”.

The usual caliber for almost all of future Artillery gun procurement can be 155 mm, it was stated, in step with the Indian Artillery’s ‘mediumization’ plan.

Contemplating the gravity of the scenario of the shortcoming of the nation to induct any new artillery gun for over twenty years and the worldwide suppliers getting blacklisted one after different, Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat,  quickly after taking up the reins of  DRDO chief in 2009, determined to go forward and develop a complicated subsequent technology gun.

An evaluation of futuristic necessities was made based mostly on a number of brainstorming on potential battlefield situations and sure menace perceptions. The DRDO scientists at ARDE have been immediate in evolving the brand new applied sciences wanted inside a file time resulting in the event of ATAGS inside 4 years. The work began in 2013.

One other vital distinction was the identification of two main non-public sector corporations, one from the group of TATAs and the opposite from the Kalyani group, as companions.

Thus, was born a very indigenous and next-generation gun referred to as ATAGS, purported to be essentially the most superior weapon system in its class. Profitable proof-firing of ATAGS was introduced by the Authorities in July 2016.

DRDO scientists think about that it was a red-letter day within the historical past of India’s journey of constructing self-reliance in artillery programs when throughout trials held in Pokhran in August 2017, the ATAGS achieved a goal vary of greater than 48 km with the prevailing in-service ammunition, a world file.

Accordingly, in August 2018, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) permitted the procurement of 150 ATAGS at an estimated price of Rs. 3365 Crores. A letter of intent for this determine was issued to DRDO, the Growth Company.

Nonetheless, the procurement course of obtained a jolt when in September 2020, ATAGS, throughout a trial, suffered a barrel burst resulting from a bore untimely.

It was a case of the shell bursting throughout the barrel. It was thought that this system would return once more to the drafting board and that the Israeli Elbit Techniques ATHOS 155mm gun would get a re-look for procurement after the proposal was shelved in September 2019 in favor of indigenous gun improvement.

Nonetheless, in November 2020, specialists discovered the issues inflicting the mishap and rectified them earlier than Sending ATAGS for additional trials.

In June 2021, ATAGS efficiently accomplished excessive altitude trials at Sikkim at an altitude of 4600m, which included mobility trials of over 500 Km in mountainous terrain and excessive altitude firing. And throughout the trial interval from 26 April to 02 Might 2022, ATAGS accomplished desert trials, which included firing trials in varied modes and cost zones, thus marking the profitable completion of trials to fulfill the Preliminary Workers Qualitative Necessities (PSQR), a precursor to the formulation of the Basic Workers Qualitative Necessities (GSQR) by the person.

Additional trials of ‘non-firing parameters,’ together with electromagnetic compatibility and Directorate Basic of High quality Assurance (DGQA) trials, will comply with, it’s stated.

This, in flip, will result in the problem of a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Ministry of Defence/ Military to Bharat Forge and Tata Superior Techniques for contracts “to ship the preliminary order of 150 weapons between them.”

ATAGS Changing Russian, Swedish Weapons

It’s to be famous that as a 155mm/ 52 Calibre Artillery Gun, ATAGS  is meant to regularly exchange the classic 130mm M-46 Russian gun and the 155mm FH77B Swedish Bofors Gun, each of which have been in service with the Indian Artillery for greater than 50 years. ATAGS is claimed to be extra deadly than Bofors in each respect.

It’s outfitted with all electrical drives to make sure maintenance-free and dependable subject operations even in excessive chilly environments, with none apprehensions of hydraulic wanted in standard weapons getting frozen or turning too thick.

Constructed with a really sturdy but compact construction, the gun incorporates compact thermal imaging sight and surveillance system, Software program Outlined Radio (SDR) based mostly superior communication, excessive energy, compact ‘auxiliary energy’ unit for attaining enhanced cross-country mobility, walking-beam suspension for negotiating troublesome terrains, simultaneous voice, and information communication and hearth management laptop.

ATAGS is supplied with an “Built-in Fireplace Management system” consisting of an INS-based Automated Gun Alignment and Positioning System (AGAPS), Muzzle Velocity Radar (MVR), and Ballistic Pc to hold out on-line computations.

It incorporates options resembling five-round Auto A number of Spherical Simultaneous Impression (MRSI) – the place a five-round burst could be programmed to impression on the identical goal. Using automation and fashionable know-how has additionally resulted in ATAGS being made obtainable with computerized shell and cost loading, ramming with computerized gun deployment. The elevated quantity of automation may also end in the next fee of fireside.

The ATAGS can be outfitted with a Tactical Pc (TC) that instructions and controls a battery of weapons and permits integration with the Artillery Fight Command and Management System “Shakti,” an indigenous absolutely digitized, built-in, and networked system already deployed.  A single Battery Command Submit (BCP) can management a battery of six to eight weapons.

The significance or effectiveness of artillery usually flows from the dictum that the larger the gap from which one might strike at one’s enemy, the brighter the diploma of flexibility one might obtain in subject maneuvers.

And this flexibility can be decided by mobility. Subsequently, ‘Shoot and Scoot’ is a time period that one typically hears when describing artillery programs. The power of an artillery gun and its crew to shortly hearth just a few rounds and relocate to a brand new firing place is of utmost significance.

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Indian ATAGS – By way of Twitter

It’s stated that ATAGS options distinctive mobility for a towed 155 mm/52 Cal artillery gun and might attain a velocity of 20 kmph, and carry out 360-degree pivotal turning. The artillery gun has a turning radius of lower than 25 m and might climb an 18-degree gradient.

All advised, nonetheless, ATAG is without doubt one of the applications within the subject of Indian artillery, whose stock ranges from Ballistic Missile, Multi-Barrel Rocket launchers, Excessive Mobility Weapons, Mortars, Precision Guided Munitions for the destruction of enemy targets to Radars, UAVs, and Electro-optic units for finding and finishing up Submit Strike Injury Evaluation (PSDA).

Indigenization is on in all these areas, however the success fee varies from program to program. With the Agni sequence and Brahmos, India has achieved extraordinarily nicely within the subject of missiles, however the identical success fee is missing in different applications.

Even ATAGS remains to be a prototype, within the strict sense of the time period. India nonetheless requires international weapons, because the manufacturing now of the likes of Dhanush (based mostly on the switch of know-how from Bofors by the Mahindras), Okay 9 Vajra (a Self-Propelled  Gun which is an indigenized model of the South Korean SP Gun, manufactured by  Larsen and Toubro Restricted below make in India program), shouldn’t be in nice numbers. Even they’ve to totally fulfill the Military about their high quality.

Contemplating all this, India wants international weapons for a while extra. That explains why the Indian Military is shopping for the Extremely-Mild Howitzer (ULH), manufactured by BAE Techniques and is being procured via the International Navy Gross sales (FMS) Authorities-to-Authorities route from america.

India can be in search of 105mm/37 caliber mounted gun programs for stronger firepower within the mountainous northern borders with China. It issued this April Request for Info (RFI) to obtain them.

“The proposed mounted gun system might be employed in mountains and high-altitude areas alongside the northern borders of the nation for the execution of artillery duties,” the RFI talked about.

In sum, one could say that although India is on the correct path of indigenization, there’s nonetheless an extended strategy to go for the self-reliance of arms, together with the artillery.

  • Creator and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda has been commenting on politics, international coverage on strategic affairs for almost three many years. A former Nationwide Fellow of the Indian Council for Historic Analysis and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he’s additionally a Distinguished Fellow on the Institute of Peace and Battle Research. CONTACT: [email protected]
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